A new Sound Detection option for configuring when an Alexa Routine is triggered has begun appearing in the Alexa app for some Amazon Echo owners. When selected, the option allows for Alexa Routines to be triggered by the sound of a baby crying, a person snoring, or when someone coughs. These new options seem to be rolling out slowly to customers in the US.
Earlier this year during Amazon’s big event where they announced new devices and features, they mentioned that Alexa would be gaining these types of sound detection options. At the time, Amazon said that a barking dog would also be one of the sounds that can be detected, but that doesn’t seem to be included in this first rollout.
It isn’t clear at the moment if these sound detection options will be limited to certain Echo models. It appears as though the sound detection is done locally on the device itself and not saved to the cloud, so it may be that only some Echo models are capable of doing that sort of additional real-time sound processing. For example, the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube is able to interpret common commands, such as “Alexa, play,” without needing to send the command to Amazon’s servers, resulting in quicker execution, while the 1st-gen Fire TV Cube needs to send all commands to the cloud.
Alexa can already detect the sound of glass breaking or an alarm sounding as part of the Alexa Guard feature. The upcoming Guard Plus subscription is supposed to add additional activity sound detection, so the detection of a barking dog that Amazon mentioned earlier this year may only be available with a Guard Plus subscription. Alexa Guard only detects sounds when Alexa is set to ‘Away’ mode with Alexa Guard activated, but the new crying, snoring, and coughing sound detection works all the time.
To see if you have the new sound detection features, create a new Alexa Routine in the Alexa app and tap the “When this happens” setting. You should see a new “Sound Detection” option near the bottom of the list of triggers if the option is available for you. As mentioned above, this seems to be rolling out very slowly to select US customers at the moment.